Home Music Song of the Week: Indie Royalty Big Thief Keep the Crown with “Vampire Empire”

Song of the Week: Indie Royalty Big Thief Keep the Crown with “Vampire Empire”

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Song of the Week delves into the new songs we just can’t get out of our heads. Find these tracks and more in our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Big Thief returns with the live-action cult favorite, “Vampire Empire.”

Big Thief The indie kings of rock are back with a studio version of their latest live work, “Vampire Empire”. It’s a fun but fraught show from the band, who are still in the midst of touring in support of their amazing 2022 album, Warm New Dragon Mountain I believe in you (Get tickets here). after the premiere The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Back in March, they gave fans the song “Vampire Empire” this week, perhaps as a reminder of what these four are capable of.

“Empire of the Vampires” is a love song, but it’s a love song that sounds similar to the sounds of their 2019 album, condemns. In fact, it’s a love song that has equal parts love, anger, adoration, and contempt. There are plenty of contrasting images in Adrienne Linker’s surrealist nude lyricism: blood in the same bed as open flowers, lighting matches in the snow, a desire for both submission and control. Linker spins around these toxic patterns with impressionistic detail, coming to the realization that they are “falling off.” She fall in love more deeply? maybe. Do you delve deeper into the tough tangles in which a relationship thrives? probably.


Thus the metaphor of vampire empire is born, the way pain and anguish can feel, in the guise of intimate dependence, poisoning and murderous. Despite James Krevchenia’s perky, tambourine-filled trot, you can still feel the gooey heat in Joe Linker, the charged undercurrent sparkled by the empty Back Mic moves in the chorus. There is life and death here, small feelings outweighing big ones.

Lineker reaches a sharp climax in the final stanza, and those powerful contrasts become physical and angry confusions. She shifts from “I” statements to “you” statements in the second half of the third verse, reaching a fiery shriek with, “You turn me inside out and then you want the outside in / You spin me all over, then you tell me not to spin / You say you want to be alone, you want kids / You want to be with me, you want to be with him.” The band builds to a boiling point, and as they pick themselves up for another chorus, they all fall together into a cathartic, almost exhilarating release.

It’s a powerful single from Big Thief, whose minimalism is made all the more poignant by Linker’s charged notes. This is a band with an extraordinary ability to mine the spaces in between, to render the intangible and the ineffable inharmonious with clarity and poise. In short, Big Thief in his bag, and “Vampire Empire” is another rousing example of indie rock greatness.


Paulo Ragusa
Associate Editor

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